Kalbarri/Tamala/Coral Bay May 2018

So we are just back from 2.5 weeks and 2700km of travel up the WA coast up to Coral Bay. Was quite an adventure though I thought I would chip in with a bit of a FYI and fishing report.

Left home on Friday the 4th for three nights in Kalbarri with plans of a bit of fishing along with final provisioning (water) 600km closer to Tamala which was the next spot. The plan was to do a charter out of Kalbarri though a mechanic bill a few days prior killed the play funds so we were down to the 3.8m inflatable. On Saturday, we headed across the river to the north side and threw twisties and poppers on the ocean side of the reef. You could see Tailor though they were right in close to edge of the reef. I did manage to jag one though landed a scale only. After an hour on the beach, we had a 8cm tailor which swam away. The conditions were good enough to take the boat out the river mouth and we dragged some lures north for a mile or so, or until the breeze went west, where we headed back before it got nasty, which it didn’t.
We headed back to camp (Anchorage Caravan Park) before taking the kids down to the park for a run around whilst we fished outside sea rescue. Landed a few more tiny tailor, tiny whiting and tiny tarwhine. Pretty dismal though it got worse when an Albatross flew away with the bait. Sausages for dinner.

We packed up from Kalbarri on Monday and headed north to Tamala where were staying at Huts. After vibrating our way along Useless Loop Road, it took us around 5 hours to get to site. The beach was pretty boggy (fully loaded Navara towing 1.8t of van) though hopes were high for a beach fish with a few reports of snapper landed in the days before we arrived. Walking along the beach at night, I managed a small squid in a butterfly net and some guys at the end of the beach had a set net and got some small pinkies and a size flat head. Disappointing to see that not much of what was unwanted swam away.

Boat was inflated the next day and we had took it out for a bait run to get some lines in off the beach. Butteries were plentiful and we quickly had a bucket of bait. I jumped in from the boat and swam in with a spear hoping to see something worthy of the gun though apart from butteries. Once back on the beach, the guys told me about some tuskies and some sweet lips not far off the beach so I went and grabbed them. One for bait and the other for our guts. 3 rods were cast out and one was paddled out and we waited.
The hooks were stripped over time without a single run.

That evening we took the boat out for a sunset fish and it just happened to be the day it blew its arse off. After 2 hours or so, after trying 4 spots, we came back to the beach with a 800mm shark which was cooked up with the tusky the next day.
Next day we ventured out at sunrise and after a few miles looking for ground towards the Guano Islands, we came back with nothing but back in time for brekkie and to earn some points before heading out at lunchtime for a spear. I am glad I borrowed a spear as it was the only reliable way to catch edible fish and the tuskies are plentiful though largely small.

I jumped in at the northern of the Smith Islands and there is no shortage of fish there. If you were to have a net and some time there, you would clean up with Mullet. I managed to get the spear to hit one though it got away. The big tuskies know when you are pointing a spear at them and you need to be patient to get them. The bloke in the boat managed a few small pinkies whilst I was swimming around though after bagging three size fish, I jumped in and we headed back to the beach to defrost.

We went out again one more night and got a shark and hooked a turtle. They go hard and busted 80lb line after towing the boat for a few minute.

Overall, the fishing at Tamala was dismal. I had higher expectations than our stop at Tea Tree last time though it was extremely disappointing to not get a size fish on a hook after 7 days. Reports of ample whiting in the lead up had us hopeful though it was day 6 that one of the guys got one. Paddling in the glassy shallows had plenty of butteries around but no whiting. Over all, we got 5 Tusk fish, 4 Gardies and two sharks after 6 days with lines in the water. Weather was phenominal with glass outs for most of the day on all bar one. My 4 yo was kayaking with ease.

In the below, Green is where we motored looking for spots, Yellow is where we fished, orange is where I swam and I don't know what the red line is for but I swam there too.
The red arrow is where we camped.

It got to pack up day in Tamala and we were on the road at 0900. Managed a stick in the side wall of a tyre on the way out and discovered how inadequate the factory wheel wrench and Jack’s are for Jayco vans. 45 minute pit stop and we were off to Carnarvon to fill the water tanks and fridges again. For anyone going to Carnarvon, avoid the IGA. $40 for a carton of coke (to have with rum) but on the other side, Beaurepairs are the best option for a cheap spare tyre. First place I went to only had $300+ options. Wintersun Caravan park is great and I apologise to anyone that heard out little bloke at 0330 until 0500 when we gave up and I took him for a drive for two hours. Not much to see at that hour apart from Rabbits.

Off to Coral Bay once the sun came up, via the fruit stalls on South River Road. Pretty boring unless you love Bananas though we were between seasons. Arriving at Coral Bay at 1100, we were instantly relaxed. Ridiculous amount of boat envy on the way up there and some sensational boats upon arrival. Happened to be staying directly opposite FW’er Crano and had a few good chats with him over the following 5 days. Small world as it is the 3rd consecutive camping trip where I have met active FW’ers

It took us 3 days to get the boat inflated and out after an unsuccessful fish along the rock wall at the boat ramp. Some very big fish at the ramp including a big trout but they are very smart. Due to a nice bit high tide, we took the boat across the reef and almost instantly hooked into a Mangrove Jack, followed by a Gold Spot then two Barracuda. Plenty of bust ups and some big fish swimming amongst though not interested in lured and when I jumped in with the spear, they were off. Only thing fish were interested in was Smilin Jacks.
We went back and got the kids (10 and 4) and headed back across the reef. Misjudged a swell and had it brake across the boat which upset my little lady a bit but we managed to side track her attention. She loves Moana and the wave that broke across her boat was a monster so she had thoughts of that moment I think. Another two Cuda’s to keep everyone entertained before heading back to the beach.

Unfortunately, the fish we decided to keep in Coral Bay went into my fridge/freezer which decided to fault at some point and overnight defrosted so when I went out in the morning to fillet, I discovered that everything was room temperature. Bloody spewing but I have some cray bait now.

After leaving Coral Bay on Sunday morning at 0700, we pushed through (with a 4 and 1.5yo) to Dongara before settling in the free camp in town. Managed to get to the pub to watch the last 10 minutes of the Eagles game before hitting the sack at 0830. Little fella kicked off at midnight and after two hours of winging, we decided to pack up at 0300 and head home. Hard drive after 4 hours of sleep.

Overall, fishing was dismal though the weather was sensational, fishing out of a 3.8m inflatable. We only got only one cloudy evening and that was when we decided to cook a BBQ on the beach in Coral Bay which made for a sensational sunset.

Avoid the Carnarvon IGA, the prices are ridiculous, along with the shops in Kalbarri. Eggs are around $4 a carton more in Kalbarri for Kalbarri Eggs, and 10l water containers are $8 as opposed to $4 for the same thing in Woolworths down here. We will go back to Kalbarri but won’t go that way next time we head north. Better to spend the night at the free camp on the highway rather than the 70km detour.
Cheapest fuel between Geraldton and Coral Bay was Billabong Road House. Food is pretty good there too. Fuel Map is a good App though people need to update it so it is relevant.

We stopped at Anchorage Caravan park which is comfortable though the facilities need some updating. Very friendly caretakers. Huts at Tamala is a nice spot. Flowing clean water is nice if you have older kids as you can wash in it and the prickles that Prickly Point are not as bad as I expected though we were on the sand. 12 or so per day though we only got them when sand ended up on our floor mats. Wintersun Caravan park is very nice. Tidy and spacious with nice facilities. Peoples Park in Coral Bay is very relaxing and our bays were massive. Facilities are adequate though you don’t go there for a good shower.

Lastly, if you ever go north and throw some bait in at the last minute, make sure you shut your freezer. Mine was left cracked and oh my bloody god. 2.5 weeks of fermenting bait has the suburb smelling like rotten arse.

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kirky79's picture

Posts: 1229

Date Joined: 13/01/12

Been waiting for your report

Wed, 2018-05-23 14:24

 But it doesn't leave me with any confidence. We are heading upto Tamala in the school holidays. Last time there about 4 years ago we struggled fish wise, caught a lot of small Snapper and one just sized Tusky. Might go crabbing before leaving this year and see if that gets the Blue bone interested. Thanks for the report. Swompa 

Swompa's picture

Posts: 2447

Date Joined: 14/10/12

 We couldn't get away from

Wed, 2018-05-23 19:22

 We couldn't get away from little pinkies at Tea Tree and tried the same techniques for nothing this time. There were a few other groups at the Hut and in caravans further up the beach (even though when I booked I was told 3 people but more like 10 people and 3 vans) who spent most of the day out and spent very little time cleaning fish, if at all. 



Posts: 482

Date Joined: 21/05/12

 what a reportsad for the

Wed, 2018-05-23 15:04

 what a report

sad for the small amount of fish seems u did put in the hours

RohanKok's picture

Posts: 36

Date Joined: 25/06/17

Great trip

Wed, 2018-05-23 15:26

Sounds like you had a great trip mate. I have been to Tamala a few times now and we always bag out on massive snapper. The secret to this is very simple. Whole squid or butter fish and drift through the deeper sections 7m + and not near the islands - sunrise and sunset. You can easily see these sections on the map above and you will be surprised what you get.


 *Fish for the future by only keeping what you need*

Swompa's picture

Posts: 2447

Date Joined: 14/10/12

 We tried the whole buttery

Wed, 2018-05-23 19:25

 We tried the whole buttery during the evening and mornings as well as chunks of buttery, herring and squid on the same lines. Strange to not even get small snapper but we fully catered for no fish so as much as it was a disappointment, it wasn't a disaster.

Faulkner Family's picture

Posts: 14915

Date Joined: 11/03/08

 Sounds like you had a great

Wed, 2018-05-23 18:03

 Sounds like you had a great trip despite the lack of fish. Spendingvtime away with family is priceles in my books . Even if they wake you super early 


RUSS and SANDY. A family that fishes together stays together

Swompa's picture

Posts: 2447

Date Joined: 14/10/12

 Forgot to mention that

Wed, 2018-05-23 19:09

 Forgot to mention that whilst at Tamala, I wrote a note and threw it in a bottle mid week. The week later, my wife got a message from a school mate on Facebook saying she found it on the beach during a morning walk. Out of pure coincidence, they were staying at a camp on the left peninsula at the top and it took a week to drift to them! Crazy stuff

quadfisher's picture

Posts: 994

Date Joined: 28/09/10

Honest John swompa

Wed, 2018-05-23 23:57

 Thats for the great report mate , I think some fishers think a trip away is a trip for success , but its not always true fish wise.

 Any trip away with family is a great time , but the realitys of poor fishing weeks , upsett kiddies and little fails like tyres or overblown 

 prices do tend to bring you down to earth.

 Having in the past done more sandcastles and bedtime stories on fishing trips than actually fishing , kids come first and thats that.

 And had the odd 1200km southern trip for salmon , and landed 1 in 3 days whilst metro anglers were cleaning up does slap you round a bit.

 but things change and my now teenage and older girls can cook dads bbq at camp , as well as take photos and set up the tent , and with

 age comes knowledge , so southern trips around moon phases and tides tend to be alot more productive now .

 You never know excactly whats going to happen on a trip , and thats the way it should be , as in our over ruled and over protective lives 

 were some govt department always knows best , we need to challenge ourselves and to swallow that bitter pill occasionally.




Swompa's picture

Posts: 2447

Date Joined: 14/10/12

 The goal at Tamala was to

Thu, 2018-05-24 07:29

 The goal at Tamala was to build a sand castle as big as the kids and it was achieved. They had more fun jumping on it but time with the little people is priceless. 

Got the boat out to show them turtles, they felt the shark skin and ate food we cooked over the fire. Invaluable life experience. 

Little bloke was hacking into a coconut I may or may not have borrowed from Coral Bay last night. I certainly didn’t drink from a ‘fresh from Tree’ coconut when I was growing up. 

Good memories were made.